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Asian Shares Mostly Higher But China Falters

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Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Tuesday as a surge in crude oil prices to nearly six-month highs boosted energy stocks. Chinese and Hong Kong markets bucked the uptrend on concerns that the Chinese government may slow down monetary easing.

Mainland Chinese shares extended losses for a second straight session on expectations that China's central bank is unlikely to cut the reserve requirement ratio anytime soon.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 16.45 points or 0.5 percent to 3,198.59, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended marginally lower at 29,963.24.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares eked out modest gains, with oil-related stocks pacing the gainers after oil prices hit 2019 highs. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose 41.84 points or 0.2 percent to 22,259.74, and the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,622.97.

Japan Petroleum Exploration rose 1.3 percent, Idemitsu Kosan gained 1.7 percent and Inpex Corp rallied 2.8 percent. On the other hand, Yaskawa Electric lost 2.9 percent on profit taking after recent strong gains.

Australian markets hit their best level in nearly eight months as higher commodity and oil prices boosted resource stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 59.60 points or 1 percent to 6,319.40 as trading resumed after a four-day Easter weekend. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 61.20 points or 1 percent at 6,411.10.

Energy stocks such as oil Search, Origin Energy, Santos, Beach Energy and Woodside Petroleum rallied 2-4 percent after oil prices jumped to 2019 highs on expectations that the U.S. decision not to renew waivers on Iranian oil import sanctions would further squeeze supply.

Mining heavyweight BHP rose 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto added 1.5 percent, while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group surged up 3.5 percent.

Gold miners Newcrest and Evolution dropped over 1 percent despite an increase in gold prices overnight. Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac all ended up over 1 percent.

Seoul stocks edged up as investors awaited earnings results from large-cap companies this week. The benchmark Kospi rose 3.86 points or 0.2 percent to 2,220.51.

Fears surrounding higher fuel costs sent airline stocks lower, with Asiana Airlines plunging 6 percent. Korean Air Lines shed 1.4 percent and Jeju Air dropped 2 percent.

New Zealand shares hit a record high as a weak kiwi dollar helped lift exporters such as a2 Milk and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed 45.22 points or 0.5 percent to finish above the 10,000 level for the first time. Heavyweight a2 Milk rallied 2.4 percent, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shares jumped 3.1 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended mixed as housing data disappointed and investors braced themselves for a deluge of earnings news.

The Dow dropped 0.2 percent, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2 percent.

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